Dirk Nowitzki’s House of Pain

04.09.09 9 years ago 42 Comments
Dirk Nowitzki (photo. Monte Isom)

Dirk Nowitzki (photo. Monte Isom)

Add another chapter to Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash‘s rivalry/bromance — this year going down as the one when Dirk symbolically closed the door on Nash’s championship window from more than 500 miles away … Going into last night’s schedule, the Suns’ anti-magic number was one; either one loss or one Dallas win away from being eliminated from the playoff race. Nash and crew did their part, holding off a resilient Hornets squad on the road thanks to Nash’s clutch shooting and some unusually solid team defense. But the Mavs didn’t cooperate; Dirk dropped 31 points — including a run in the third quarter of 12 straight — and led Dallas to a 30-piecing of the Jazz to clinch their own postseason spot … In New Orleans, the Suns went into the fourth quarter up 10 after holding the Hornets to just 14 points in the third. The Hornets rallied in the final five minutes, but it seemed every time they got close, Nash (24 pts, 13 asts) made a big play. Nash took a charge from Chris Paul (29 pts, 7 rebs, 16 asts) on a play where CP could have made it a one-possession game, and despite Peja hitting a pair of threes in the final minute to bring N.O. within one shot, Nash went 6-for-6 at the line over the last 40 seconds to keep Phoenix ahead … Watch out for Rasual Butler to do something big come playoff time. His confidence is sky-high after hitting that buzzer-beater in Miami the other night and the game-winner at Sacramento. There was one possession late in the fourth yesterday where Butler took the ball up top and went on his own to work his way into hitting a big jumper to cut into Phoenix’s lead; no spot-up, no waiting for CP to make it happen for him. If Butler is playing like more than just a stand-in-the-corner guy, that makes N.O.’s offense that much more dangerous … Ugliest play of the game: Nash and Shaq (17 pts, 11 rebs) ran a pick-and-roll where Shaq tried to get cute and go with the finger roll, only he didn’t even hit rim … Serious hypothetical question: If the Tyson Chandler-to-OKC trade had gone through, would the Hornets be interested in trading for Shaq this summer? … As the final buzzer sounded on Suns/Hornets, the Mavs were up 12 on Utah in the first half. Remember the last episode ESPN’s “Playmakers” when the Cougars won their last game and thought they were in the playoffs, only to go back in the locker room and watch the team they needed to lose pull out a last-second win? We can see the Suns locker room being like that … From now until the playoffs start, every game the Spurs win will bring out the “See, I told you they can still win without Ginobili!” crowd. And every time they lose, the “See, I told you they’re done!” folks will resurface. Last night goes in Column B. San Antonio started off great, smashing the Blazers in the first quarter, but after that they just went to sh*t. Steve Blake hit a halfcourt shot at the halftime buzzer to cut what had been a 19-point deficit to two at the break, and by then Portland had the momentum well in hand, which they carried through the second half … There was a question of whether Tim Duncan would even play; he’s been sitting out the second half of back-to-backs for the last couple months, but obviously he’s needed more now with Manu out and playoff seeds still up in the air. Pop decided to use him, but Duncan was mostly ineffective and didn’t play much, posting just four points in 24 minutes …

Ben Wallace is not human

Ben Wallace is not human

No drama going on in Cavs/Wizards. Gilbert Arenas didn’t play, the Cavs ran ’em out of the gym early, and LeBron (21 pts, 6 rebs, 7 asts) spent the fourth quarter clowning on the bench … So in the last two nights we’ve had Carl Landry return to the court three weeks after getting shot, and Ben Wallace getting back out there less than two months after breaking his leg, posting seven points and six boards in 17 minutes on Wednesday. Is there anyone else who even deserves a vote for the 2009 Cyborg of the Year award? It’s gotta be a two-man race at this point … Post-game quote from Antawn Jamison: “You play selfish basketball, try to pad the stats and not play to win games, you get blown out. The same stuff has been going on all year. It gets to the point where it’s frustration. I don’t know. It’s not playing team basketball and not doing the things you need to do in order to win.” That’s good, Antawn. The first step to helping yourself is admitting you have a problem … Some big stat lines from Wednesday: Carmelo and Kevin Durant scored 31 apiece in Denver’s win over OKC; Danny Granger dropped 29 points as the Pacers dropped 130 on the Raptors in a rout; Kevin Love had 20 points and 12 boards in a win at Golden State; Rajon Rondo put up 31 points, nine boards, five dimes and three steals in a win over Jersey; and Joe Johnson put up 30 points in a win at Milwaukee … Note to Smitty and The Jet: Not everyone who performs pre-game antics at the scorer’s table is “trying to be LeBron.” This might sound crazy, but LBJ didn’t invent nor patent the art of goofing off … Wednesday’s NBA Draft early entrants included Arizona State SG James Harden (agent), Pitt PF DaJuan Blair (agent), Wake Forest PG Jeff Teague (no agent), Arizona PF/C Jordan Hill (agent), Arizona PG Nic Wise (no agent), and LSU PF/SF Tasmin Mitchell (no agent). We could’ve sworn Tasmin has been in college for like seven years, but apparently he’s only a junior … We’re out like the Suns …

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